Despite continued opposition from the Feminist Majority and other women’s rights and civil rights groups, Michael McConnell, President Bush’s nominee for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, was approved by the US Senate Friday in a voice vote. McConnell, who is known for his staunch opposition to abortion rights, will now serve a lifelong term on the “court of last resort” for the states of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. Today, the Senate is debating the nomination of anti-civil rights, anti-women’s rights Judge Dennis Shedd to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A vote is expected sometime this week.
Both Shedd and McConnell were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Nine Democratic members of the committee voted against Shedd, a former staff member of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), who is famous for his consistent opposition to civil rights, while only one Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), voted against McConnell – who has consistently advocated for the reversal of Roe vs. Wade and declared the landmark abortion rights decision unconstitutional. The Utah law professor also signed a statement of pro-life principle and concern that calls for embryos to be considered persons under the law and applauded a judge for not following the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). These votes were in stark contrast to a committee that before the November elections delayed votes on both McConnnell and Shedd.
If approved by the full Senate, Shedd would be given a lifetime position on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Thirty percent of the citizens of those states are African-American, while there is no African-American judge on the Fourth Circuit, Senator Dianne Feinstein noted before the judiciary committee voted last week.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .